2011年1月16日 星期日

清水祖師廟 Clear-Water Zu-Shi Temple in Danshui

This artistically re-rendered photo, courtesy of Mr Sam Wu, shows the work by master potter 陳天乞 - colorful examples of many more that adorn the 清水祖師廟 in Danshui. The resident deity in this temple 清水祖師 is also known as the 黑面落鼻祖師 or the most revered black-faced nose-dropping master. He was 陳應 (1044-1109), a monk-physician originally from Hokkien.

His dark face was supposedly from suntan from lifelong outdoor charity work (one of many versions). The nose-dropping legend of this statue actually abounds. It is a warning sign that appears whenever there is an impending disaster. The most famous episode was the earthquake in 1867 (on the 23rd day, 11th month, lunar calendar) that had leveled 石門Shi-men (north of Danshui) yet spared all residents. They happened to be parading 清水祖師's statue in an open field when the nose detached and the ground shook soon after.

The nose piece can only be re-attached by using ashes from burned incense mixed with water [see close-up above]. And no amount of human force can detach the nose. During the Japanese rule, the town folks worrying about an imminent epidemic had held a pre-emptive parade for 清水祖師 to patrol and bless Danshui. It was in violation of the Shindoism only law at that time, so the procession was halted by police chief 佐藤金丸. This was when the nose miraculously dropped. After re-attaching it, Sato was challenged to yank it off. He couldn't with all his might, the parade was therefore allowed to continue. Sato's successor 清水勉治 was also taught the same lesson. Cynics might argue that these two policemen were simply humoring Danshui-ren - to avoid a popular uprising. We of course know better.

During the Sino-French war when the French came to invade Danshui, 清水祖師 together with MaZu, Guanyin and Royal Lord Su, divinely intervened. For which, a wooden plaque "功資拯濟" was granted by Emperor Guan-Xu. To house this royal gift, a new temple must be built, so the statue of 清水祖師 was temporarily moved to the 清水祖師廟 in 艋舺 (Manga, now Wanhua). Unfortunately, the folks in Manga later refused to return the statue, even fabricated a duplicate to swindle Danshui-ren. These had resulted in lawsuits during the Japanese era. It was eventually decreed that the two towns settle through time-sharing. However, after the war, Danshui-ren discovered that the shared statue was again a fake.

Historically, Danshui-ren were in mutually beneficial collaboration with people from Manga. The town history, however, had also recorded disdainfully that during the Sino-French war, a bunch of unruly Manga youth came and attacked Christians in Danshui. Dr George Leslie Mackay and his family had to flee to Hongkong as a result.

The stories of 清水祖師 are still growing even today. The most recent one was about an architect commissioned for a renovation project. He arrived at the temple with blueprints in hand late one night for a meeting with the caretakers, only to find that all the gates were locked shut. After knocking on the doors, a booming voice inside told him to slip the blueprints under the doors. He did so unsuspectingly and found out on the next day that no living person was at the temple since the previous evening.

[Above: Two more-recently added ishidoros guard the entry to the temple, replacing two stone lions from the olden days.]

For many young Danshui-ren drafted to serve in the military, wearing magic spells available from the temple is a must. At least one kid credits his survival from a bad accident to the protection by 清水祖師.

Every year on the 6th Day of the 5th Month, lunar calendar, Danshui celebrates 清水祖師's re-designated birthday (it should really be the 6th Day of the 1st Month - minor details really). This is also a great excuse for Danshui families and friends to get together and have a feast.

Mark that on your calendar and come to join the festivities and witness one of the most enduring legends in northern Taiwan:

11 則留言:

  1. I was born in my father’s house, which was located on the same street, only 32 houses away from the site of the future Temple. The construction of the Temple was not completed until 1937 when I was attending the kindergarten. I remembered well that my father’s name with his 2,000 Japanese Yen donation for the construction was proudly engraved on the wall inside the Temple. In my memory, always with the scent of the burning incense, the Temple was the coolest spot in whole town in those hot summer days with the breeze from the river.
    Thanks for the beautiful story that recalled my memories.

  2. Hi ChoSan,

    I have also spent many summer days in the cool corridors of the temple when growing up.

    Do you remember the stone lions? No one seem to know what happened to them. One of them had a stone ball carved inside its mouth. I used to wonder how that was done.

    This temple was the joint effort of many famous contractors at that time. And I shall take a closer look at the donor name list next time.

  3. My mother had explained to me once that Clear-Water Zu-Shi清水祖師was a vegetarian 吃素yet Ma-Zu媽祖 was not; therefore people offer 清水祖師 fruits only and offer 媽祖poultries, meat or fish instead. I used to climb on the back of the pair of stone lion at Ma-Zu Temple and I also noticed only lion had a ball in its mouth but not for a lioness to have one; a little bit unfair treatment by today’s standard isn’t it? I could not figure out what they were but there were also some kind of stone sculptured objects at the entry of Zu-Shi Temple, for sure they were not any shape of animals.

  4. There is a very old picture of 祖師廟 taken by Mayor Tsai's father; although it shows only the roof. The caretaker at 祖師廟 does not recall any stone lions, either. Very strange, I distinctly remember two, sitting right outside the front gate. If not the lions, maybe stone drums? Anyway, they are long gone. Indeed the lioness was carved with its mouth closed.

    I have an explanation: 清水祖師 was a monk and 媽祖 was a fisherman's daughter, hence the dietary difference.

  5. I'd never heard that it was unruly (I'll ask you to clarify here) youths from my Monga were the ones that drove Mackay off to Hong Kong during the Sino-French War. I've often blogged about the unruly youths of Monga, where I live. But they kind of grow on you too. They're okay if you spend a moment getting to know them.

    So where is the original 清水祖師廟? Where did it go to rest in Monga in the 19th century? It looks like I'll have some time on my hands this coming Lunar New Year; I wouldn't mind doing a bit of exploring in the neighborhood.

    "His dark face was supposedly from suntan from lifelong outdoor charity work." That sounds nice, and it's well-worded, like the start of novel.

  6. Hi Patrick,

    "Unruly" - I was going to use hooligan-ly but stopped myself. That was exactly the type of gang-like behavior that you have observed/encountered in Wanhua. Mostly hot-air although it sometimes gets out of hand if enough number of them congregated.

    The 清水祖師廟 in Wanhua is located on 台北市萬華區康定路81號. Have fun.

    Many of these Taoist deities come with colorful bios. They were real people not mythological figures, equivalent to the saints in the Catholic faith.

  7. "The 清水祖師廟 in Wanhua is located on 台北市萬華區康定路81號. Have fun." OK, I will. I like this sort of thing. I'm guessing there's a story here. Thanks.

  8. LOL, eyedoc! I've already been to the temple, and even blogged about it: http://patrick-cowsill.blogspot.com/2009/09/qingshui-temple-in-wanhua.html I had a google maps' address printed, and it took me several tries to find it. I even asked at a convenience store to its whereabouts. I win the idiot of the month for sure. Once again, LOL.

  9. And I was the Anon who suggested that you do a PhD thesis on it.

  10. Cheers. I still had a great time. I'm throwing up some shots at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/patrick_cowsill/

    I'll blog on the temple again. It's an interesting place.

  11. I've enjoyed the 1,612 pics. An amazing collection indeed. Thanks and looking forward to reading your new post on the temple as well.